Hey there, horror lovers! Welcome to another edition of Underrated Horror Movie of the Month. If you are new, here is a quick breakdown. I watch A LOT of horror movies — the good, the bad, well, you know how that saying goes. Over time, I have seen genuinely underrated gems. So, twice every month, on the second and fourth Fridays, I talk about a film I think is underrated and underloved. In this edition, I dive into the 1977 movie Kingdom of the Spiders.

About Kingdom of the Spiders

Livestock starts mysteriously dying in a rural Arizona town. While investigating the deaths, vet Rack Hansen (William Shatner) discovers a massive migration of tarantulas is making its way through the town. Unfortunately, these spiders are vicious and dangerous. They will not stop until the entire community belongs to them.

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Arachnophobes, beware; a new species of horror is born.

A spider sits on a log watching two humans.

Kingdom of the Spiders stars William Shatner, Tiffany Bolling, Woody Strode, Lieux Dressler, David McLean, Roy Engel, Natasha Ryan and Altovise Davis. Jeffrey M. Sneller provided the original story, Richard Robinson and Alan Caillou wrote the screenplay and John “Bud” Cardos directed the film.

This film has a 44 percent Tomatometer Score and a 36 percent Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fun Fact: Around 5,000 real tarantulas were used in this movie. The majority were the Mexican Red-Knee or Brachypelma Smithi species.

Fun Fact: Kingdom of the Spiders is Roy Engel’s last movie.

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My Thoughts

Ok, before any entomologists come for me saying this movie isn’t realistic, hear me out. Horror films like this are “realistic” in the same way as 3-Headed Shark Attack and Frogs, with real animals depicted in unrealistic ways. When watching animal horror, it is important to remember there are two types of this subgenre, and each has to have something that causes the attacks. In some cases, like Jaws, it is a predator doing what a predator does. In other instances, the animals have been altered in some way, which is the situation with Kingdom of the Spiders. I won’t get into what happens because, as Professor River Song would say, spoilers.

As always, I took a metaphorical stroll through some negative reviews to discuss the most common complaints. From what I gathered, there are two main issues viewers seem to have with this film. The first is realism, which I’ve already addressed.

The spiders have created a  web over a victim

The second problem that kept creeping up was the speed of the spiders. I saw comments saying things like, “no one wants a monster that you can easily outpace with a power walk.” There are so many examples that prove this statement incorrect. Throwing back to the OG Universal Monsters, we have The Mummy and Frankenstein. I am sure a turtle could outrun the Mummy. Also, need I mention slow-moving zombies?

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Moving away from the reviews, I want to talk about the story. I can’t get into too many details because it would ruin the ending, but I must mention the innovation. The end was surprising the first time I watched it, and I did not expect it to conclude that way. That said, Kingdom of the Spiders was ahead of its time. It pushed boundaries and played off of an all-too-common fear. Even if you do not have arachnophobia, thousands of spiders with amped-up venom swarming and looking for a meal would be terrifying. The first half is a bit slow, but once it gets into the action, it takes off and is worth the wait.

The acting is decent. If you are a Shatner fan, this is a good performance from him. Roy Engel always gave his roles everything. Woody Strode and Altovise Davis were excellent. I didn’t love Tiffany Bolling as the entomologist.

Final Thoughts

I only have two complaints about this movie. The first half moves too slowly, and I am concerned about the welfare of some of the spiders. However, this film gives me all of the creepy vibes. It is well-shot, and some of the scenes are incredibly eerie. Overall, I highly recommend giving this classic a chance.

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There you have it, horror fans. Another underrated horror in the books. Have you seen this one? Let me know in the comments! Also, let me know which movie you think I should feature next.

Until next time, stay spooky, and watch more horror movies. Enjoy the trailer for Kingdom of the Spiders below.

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